Saturday, 24 September 2011

Marked (wo)man

Spring has hit South Africa like a sudden tsunami, the youth has pulled out shorts and shorter skirts and colour from their cupboards. Older ladies stop wearing stockings because the heat and the touching thighs to not go well together. Flip flops are welcomed back. We come together more for braais in afternoons, meat and salad is abundant between conversations about the December holidays and plans for next year.

We are jumping the gun and heading sea-side earlier than expected. And with the beach comes that dreaded undressing and presenting of the body in clothes that you would never wear elsewhere in public because they hide no imperfection. Women have to go through torturous extractions and manipulations of natural hairlines. They feel the need to do Special K's "drop a dress size in 2 weeks" diet and eat cabbage soup and  use de-cellulite creams and mould their bodies so that they will look ok in a bikini. 

But I have noticed that all of this is rather mindless: sure you want to look good, in any case, and all the time. I am pretty certain no one prefers to look shabby and messy to being attractive to others. However, I have been using my great voyeuristic talents and observing people's bodies on campus and I tell you now: even the thinnest of girls have cellulite and stretchmarks. It seem to just be the skin's way of saying "screw you and your need for even perfection". 

In the poetry anthology Difficult to explain, edited by Finuala Dowling, Heather Tibshraeny captures Stretchmarks:

pink wiggly lines
like earthworms lined up along my upper thighs
No, they are not from having children
No, they are not beautiful
they are from pushing something too far 
till it breaks
like curfew
like third base
They are from a time
when youth went galloping forward brazenly
but skin stood still

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